RAY DORSET INTERVIEW : PART 4
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY SHOCKED AT YOUR ‘SACKING’ BUT ONCE THAT WAS REVERSED; DID YOU HAVE ANY DEFINITE IDEA AS TO HOW THE ‘NEW’ MUNGO JERRY BAND WOULD SOUND?
I knew that I would be playing the hits and Mungo favourites but I had no idea as to a definite sound apart from wanting it to be contemporary, I was listening a lot to the Doors, Neil Young and John Lennon at the time and the singer songwriter fashion like James Taylor and Elton John was in vogue at the time. The musical influences of the new musicians played a part in the development of the sound, as did the addition of the organ on some songs.
EARLY IN 1972 AT PRETTY MUCH THE SAME TIME, BOTH PAUL AND YOURSELF RELEASED SOLO ALBUMS AND BOTH WERE BRILLIANT, BUT AMAZINGLY TO ME, NEITHER CHARTED. OBVIOUSLY, YOU CAN’T SPEAK FOR PAUL BUT DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS AS TO WHY YOURS DIDN’T AND HOW DID SALES OF ‘COLD BLUE EXCURSION’ COMPARE TO THE FIRST THREE MUNGO ALBUMS?
I didn’t get any sales figures; I would have liked to have done more work on the album as some of the tracks including the title were mastered using my guide vocals, as I was not around at the time. The album got mixed reviews but I remember John Peel liking 'Cold Blue Excursion'.
ALTHOUGH I DIDN’T AGREE WITH THE CHOICE FOR THE SINGLE, WHICH WAS THE TITLE TRACK, ‘COLD BLUE EXCURSION’, IT WAS A FANTASTIC ALBUM, AND NOTHING AT ALL LIKE THE STUFF YOU WERE PLAYING IN THE BAND.
WHEN DID YOU WRITE AND RECORD THE ALBUM?
The album was recorded at Pye Studios and produced by Barry Murray, after recording the basic backing tracks where I put down a guide vocal and acoustic guitar with the rhythm section, I worked out the musical arrangements for the strings and brass with John Fiddy in one of the Pye offices and he added some of his own ideas. The recording began in late ’71 and completed in early ’72. Some of the songs were written for the album and some had been around for some time, e.g., 'Cold Blue Excursion'
MUNGO JERRY, WHICH WAS NOW YOURSELF AND JOHN GODFREY, RELEASED ‘OPEN UP’ AS THE FIRST SINGLE VERY SOON AFTER THE BREAK-UP, USING SESSION MUSICIANS. WHAT WAS THE THINKING BEHIND THIS?
I was due to go in to hospital to have my tonsils removed but had to cancel this because of the problem in sorting out a new band and Barry, etc thought that we should get a single out as soon as possible to keep the momentum going after the press announcement of the split. I wrote 'Open Up' in a hotel just north of London, it had a Doors influence and I had the idea to use the instrumental break from one of the Good Earth tracks.
YOU WERE JOINED BY DRUMMER TIM REEVES AND KEYBOARD PLAYER JON POPE IN THE BAND AND THE MUSIC TOOK ON A HARDER/ROCKIER FEEL?
Yes, and we began experimenting with on stage jams.
PRIOR TO THE BREAK-UP, YOU HAD A MAJOR UK TOUR PLANNED FOR THE SPRING OF ’72 WHICH HAD TO BE RE-ORGANISED BUT MORE OR LESS WENT AHEAD JUST THE SAME. FROM THE GIGS I SAW ON THE TOUR, AND SUBSEQUENT GIGS THROUGHOUT ’72, THEY SEEMED TO GO WELL.
I don’t remember having a specific tour plan but we certainly did a lot of gigs. I think that the first one with the new line up was at Leicester University and it went well, we got a good review in the music press for it.
WERE YOU HAPPIER WITH THE WAY THINGS WERE NOW AND WAS BARRY JUST AS ENTHUSIASTIC?
Barry was still enthusiastic, but he had made some changes to his situation as he was selling out or had done so already, to Leslie Grade of the Grade Organisation, and I was learning more about the mechanics of the music business and survival after having a major worldwide hit. I wasn’t happier as I was not unhappy in the first place. The fun and the mayhem continued on the road.
THE BAND PLAYED THE READING FESTIVAL IN 1972 BUT FROM THE PRESS REVIEWS I’VE SEEN, IF THEY ARE TO BE BELIEVED, DIDN’T SEEM TO GO DOWN TOO WELL?
We went down well at the festival, and one of the press reviews confirms this, the others were negative because it was considered by the media in general to be cool to be anti-Mungo by this time.
WHAT ABOUT THE TOUR/VISIT TO BRAZIL?
This was certainly something to remember, we had a great time, saw the sights, had wonderful steaks, and met some good people, notably David Clayton Thomas, Willy Weeks, 'Spider' Webb and Demis Roussos, the Scottish band, The Writing On The Wall, heard some terrific music.
THE NEW ALBUM WITH THIS LINE-UP, ‘BOOT POWER’ TURNED OUT TO BE A CLASSIC, AND MANY FANS FAVOURITE, DESPITE NOT CHARTING, I LOVED (AND STILL LOVE) IT!. WERE YOU PLEASED WITH IT?
I was very pleased with the album, it still sounds fresh to me, although it could maybe have been a little shorter. 'Lady Rose' was on the LP as the record company had left it off of the UK release of 'Electronically Tested' so I had to re-record it as the original sounded nothing like the new band and would have stuck out on the album like a sore thumb. I was never informed of album sales so I don’t know how many it did.
AGAIN, HOW DID SALES COMPARE WITH THE FIRST THREE ALBUMS?
I was never informed of album sales so I don’t know how many it sold.
THE ALBUM FEATURED A NEW VERSION OF ‘OPEN UP’ WHICH SOUNDED MORE LIKE THE LIVE VERSION, AND IS MY FAVOURITE TO DATE. DID YOU PREFER THE ALBUM TRACK?
Yes, and this was also re-recorded for the same reason that I re-recorded 'Lady Rose', I also did this version on Top of the Pops.
THERE WAS A PROBLEM WITH THE SLEEVE DESIGN AND IT HAD TO BE CHANGED AND RE-ISSUED WITH AN ALTERNATE COVER?
The publishers of the Beano and Dandy comics, Thomson's, I believe, objected to the similarity of images to their characters on the sleeve and threatened legal action unless the album was withdrawn from sale. The record company had no alternative than to come up with an alternative cover. I kept out of it, as the original idea was mine. This problem obviously contributed to the fact the album never gained chart status.
THE SINGLE CHOSEN FROM THE ALBUM FEATURED SHORTENED VERSIONS OF TWO OF THE ALBUM’S BEST TRACKS, ‘MY GIRL & ME’ AND ’46 & ON’, BUT BECAME THE FIRST MJ SINGLE NOT TO MAKE THE CHARTS. DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON THIS?
It would have been good to get into the charts but I did virtually no promotion on the record as Colin Earl and Paul King were taking shares from the album and the first two singles released after the split. The record company kept a low profile.
WHAT WERE THE TWO NEW BAND MEMBERS LIKE? BOTH SEEMED TO BE VERY GOOD MUSICIANS, JON SEEMED PRETTY QUIET TO ME AND TIM THE OPPOSITE. AM I RIGHT?
Yes, Jon wasn’t as wild as Tim who often took things over the limit, especially when he re-joined the band. They both were good players and had good musical influences.
THE FAN CLUB DURING 1970-71 WAS VERY LOW-KEY BUT IT TOOK ON A NEW LEASE OF LIFE DURING 1972?
I got actively involved with the fan club in ’72 and we had a very good rapport with the fans. We started to send out more newsletters, pictures etc.
WHAT WERE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF ’72 FOR YOU?
It was a long time ago but the visit to Brazil was a major highlight as was making the 'Boot Power' album.